Kalabrese Rumpelzirkus

Rumpelzirkus, the debut album by Swiss micro-funk producer Kalabrese, has garnered some rather high expectations on the strength of online praise and advance speculation. It’s not hard to see why. Unlike the bulk of anonymous producers out there, Kalabrese sounds at home in his own skin. He doesn’t mind singing, even though his voice doesn’t have much range. Furthermore, Kalabrese takes a uniquely organic approach to the kind of micro-house that was once championed by Ricardo Villalobos on 2003’s Alcachofa, an upbeat, optimistic form of house that, in Kalabrese’s hands, sounds as if it’s been played by an early incarnation of the Talking Heads. Admittedly, this combination doesn’t sound as good as it reads all the time. Though the buoyant energy of producers like Luciano and, occasionally, a not-so-frantic Atom TM (of Señor Coconut fame), Kalabrese’s sometimes charming vocal limitations are, occasionally, just plain corny. Several guest vocalists emerge on some tracks — namely Da Mezga, Kate Wax and Guillermo Sohrya — but they tend to suffer the same fate. In the end, Rumpelzirkus’ strengths lie in the organic energy of the musicianship involved here — a rare quality in house music — but its distracting and overbearing vocals are an occasional liability to home listeners. None of this will matter in a club, however. (Stattsmusik)